A new Netflix documentary about Taylor Swift revealed that the pop star regretted not speaking out against Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. In other words, she wishes she could replace her “Blank Space” with “Bad Blood.” The film — titled Miss Americana, an homage to her song “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince” — features footage from 2018 when Swift was discussing her statement against Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). That statement would falsely smear Blackburn as anti-woman and anti-gay, twisting her recent votes out of context.
“For 12 years, we’ve not gotten involved with politics or religion,” the singer’s father, Scott Kingsley Swift, says in the video.
“Yeah, but this is on the home front. And also, back in the presidential election, I was in such a horrendous place that I wasn’t gonna pop my head out of the sand for anything,” his daughter replies. “First of all, these aren’t your dad’s celebrities, and these aren’t your dad’s Republicans.”
Her father warns that the press would cover any political statement as “Taylor Swift comes out against Trump,” and the singer responds that she didn’t care.
“I’m sad that I didn’t two years ago,” Swift says. “I’m saying right now that this is something that I know is right, and, you guys, I need to be on the right side of history. And if he doesn’t win, then at least I tried.”
Then the actress breaks into tears discussing the supposed sins of Marsha Blackburn.
“It really is a big deal to me. She votes against fair pay for women, she votes against the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act, which is just basically protecting us from domestic abuse and stalking. Stalking! She votes… She thinks that if you’re a gay couple or even if you look like a gay couple, you should be allowed to be kicked out of a restaurant,” Swift says.
“It’s really basic human rights, and it’s right and wrong at this point, and I can’t see another commercial and see her disguising these policies behind the words ‘Tennessee Christian values.’ Those aren’t Tennessee Christian values. I live in Tennessee. I am a Christian. That’s not what we stand for,” the singer insists.
While Blackburn voted against the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, this does not mean she “voted against equal pay.” There are many reasons to oppose that bill, and opposing the bill does not mean you support paying men more than women for the same job. The congresswoman has vocally defended the concept of equal pay, she just does not want Washington, D.C., to decide what that means.
As for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Blackburn voted to reauthorize the legislation in 2012. She only opposed the reauthorization of VAWA in 2013, when the bill was expanded to include special clauses for LGBT people, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants. The new bill would have opened women’s spaces to biological men who identify as women, likely putting women in danger.
As for the idea that Blackburn supports government allowing gay people to get “kicked out of a restaurant,” Swift again twisted the senator’s position. LGBT activists claim that religious business owners who refuse to provide special services for same-sex weddings are in fact discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation. Religious freedom battles, however, are not about kicking LGBT people out of businesses or restaurants, but about allowing religious people to opt-out of celebrating something they disagree with.
Taylor Swift’s declaration that Blackburn’s positions are in conflict with “Tennessee Christian values” is a rehash of an LGBT activist group’s smears against the senator. It appears Swift has found herself trapped in a liberal activist bubble, at least on these issues. Her endorsement of the Equality Act — which feminists and lesbians have joined with conservatives to oppose — also places her with radical transgender activists.
Perhaps the best response to Taylor Swift’s misunderstanding of current politics is a version of her own lyrics in “Miss Americana & the Heartbreak Prince,” courtesy of my wife: “The whole internet is rolling fake dice, you pass stupid laws you win stupid prizes.” The pop star is not putting herself “on the right side of history,” but she is certainly winning stupid prizes with her misinformed take on the modern GOP.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.